Youth Workers and Rulings (2018/02/24)

Many Muslim youth workers are faced with tons of questions by young people on a daily basis. How do Muslim youth workers handle sensitive questions, when the inquisitive youth are eager to receive an answer. Does the youth worker offer a piece of advice, refer the youth to others, or confer with other qualified muftis to get the address.

Dr. Salah As-Sawy advises that the youth worker should not take upon self the burden of giving an opinion that might not be accurate, save yourself before saving others. On the other hand, the mufti must meet all requirements for giving advice, and consult with other muftis for other opinions before formulating his final opinion and communicating it to the questioning youth.

Dr. Ahmed Abuseif advises that youth workers must not work in a vacuum, they must operate through an organization which has a spiritual leader, qualified to give opinions and advice, and issue rulings on issues impacting the organization and its constituents. For example if a school teacher is asked a question by a student and the answer is not obvious in the Quran or Sunnah, she should confer with the Imam or Chaplain of the school and develop an opinion and communicate to the student.

In some cases there could be a need for urgent action, for example a youth might be experiencing a mental trauma, or might be about to harm self or others. The youth worker needs to be prudent and vigilant as the Prophet (pbuh) would advise his community members differently. The Prophet (pbuh) applied emotional intelligence and utilized leadership skills and traits to ensure that his advice was appropriate for the person questioning and the context and circumstances in which the question was raised.

In summary, issuing a ruling is a big responsibility and burden on the mufti. The Mufti must do the best to get the most accurate, objective, complete, contextual ruling based on the Quran and Sunnah with full understanding and attainment of the requirements of issuing a ruling or advice to the questioner or community at large. It is less advised to issue a general ruling that applies across the board to all people in a community, preference is always to be specific, objective and contextual.